FiveF Alka Ltd
For over 30 years Alkasystems have been successfully used to feed animals by creating alkaline characteristics in cereal crop materials Alkalage, Alkagrain and Alkastraw by harnessing the ammonia release technology of Home n’ Dry. In recent years the technology has seen the development of AlkabupHa which reduces dietary acid loading from forages in Total and Part Mixed Rations (TMR/PMR) before entering the animal. The benefits of non-acidic alkaline feed have been shown in ways that enhance health and performance in many markets across the world for feeding a whole spectrum of ruminant animals. This then, allows users to increase the use of own grown or locally sourced feeds and forages whilst maintaining animal health.
FiveF Alka Ltd created Home n’ Dry, the foundation of Alkasystems technology, over 30 years ago after extensive research. The technology something allows users to maximise the potential of their crops, feeds and diets.
After years of careful development Alkasystems technology is now being used in manufactured – blended and pelleted feeds where the whole feed is fully ‘Alkalized’ – creating Alkablend and Alkanut feeds designed to combat acid loading so common in animals fed manufactured feeds.
Since developing Home n’ Dry pellets, they have been utilised in various ways with Alkasystems technology to produce:
- Alkalage: Processed mature cereal whole crop forage
- Alkagrain: Processed grain concentrate produced on farm or manufactured
- Alkastraw: Mature straw forage
- AlkabupHa: Alkalizing pellets for Total Mixed Rations
- Alkablend: Manufactured fully alkalised Blended feed
- Alkanut: Manufactured fully alkalised pelleted feed
Ammonia is the key nitrogen source released from urea contained in Home n’ Dry. The engineering in the process of creating the pellets means that the resultant feed material contains virtually no measurable residue to urea.
1982 – Alan Sayle, whilst working as Sales Manager for B. Dugdale & Sons, accompanied by Roger Dugdale (pictured right) visited the USA to observe how nutritionists were feeding high genetic potential cattle.
In the USA, Lucerne hay (none fermented, high protein and alkaline) was almost universal in diets, unlike in the UK where the forage options were limited to acidic fermented grass based silages.
It became apparent that existing UK forages provided a poor base on which to build the modern dairy cow diet. New forage systems were required which complimented existing systems and that could contribute to meeting the dietary requirements of the modern dairy cow.
It was identified that cereal crops could be grown well in the UK but once harvested, the crop either needed to be fermented or otherwise treated to ensure stability in the clamp.
1986 – Alan Sayle developed unique ammonia releasing pellets called Home n’ Dry® (manufactured by B. Dugdale & Son) to apply to the cereal crops at harvest. His customers understood the potential benefits of the resultant forage, and so cereal crops were planted in the North West of the UK for the first time in decades – Alkasystems technology had begun.
The resultant Home n’ Dry® treated forages performed well but to maximise the yield, the crop needed be harvested at full maturity.
1993 – Alan Sayle received the Annual Prince Phillip Award for Research of Development in the Field of Dairy Farming for an exhibition on the Unique Alkaline Preservation of Whole Crop Wheat. The Award was presented by HRH Prince Phillip in Buckingham Palace.
Alan (by now of Alan Sayle Associates still working very closely with B. Dugdale & Son) worked with contractor Peter King (of King Bros) to develop the first integral small grain Primary Processing Mill in conjunction with Claas.
This meant the cereal crops could now be taken to full maturity, to maximise the yield and grain utilisation and with a wide harvest window.
Alkalage® was the name given to this new unique forage – which is alkaline with increased protein and digestibility, unattractive to vermin, is stable and does not leak any effluent. Many trials followed to prove the systems efficacy whilst the numbers of farms producing Alkalage® grew constantly.
Farms could now decide whether to take the whole crop or the more concentrated ‘head cut’ option to produce Alkalage® and Alkastraw®. They could also choose to produce Alkagrain® by treating combined processed grain.
2000 – Paul Sayle joins Alan Sayle Associates
2003 – By now Alkalage® was being produced all over the UK, and interest was being received from many Irish farmers, merchants and nutritionists. Over two years many of these visited the UK to observe the farms using Alkalage, and since then, in association with a small number of approved merchants, the use of Alkasystems in Ireland and N. Ireland have subsequently grown year on year.
Also during 2003, two field demonstration open days were held to display different crop management techniques – which on the first day, the first person of hundreds onto the site was a Mr Martin from Australia. Following on from this meeting Alan visited Australia where he met Mr Martin’ son, Andrew. It was identified that Home n’ Dry® was also ideal for treating crops in Australia, and so a working agreement was established.
2004 – Andrew began developing a Home n’ Dry® production facility in Perth, Australia and now thousands of tonnes of crops have Home n’ Dry® applied throughout Australian and New Zealand to produce Alkalage®, Alkastraw® and Alkagrain® every year.
2007 – Malcolm Graham joined Alan Sayle as a consultant nutritionist.
During the ensuing period the technology was used to create Alkaline manufactured and pelleted feeds for both ruminants and an innovative application for equine feeding – Alkapellets pH PLUS®.
2009 – Anne Campbell joins as financial administrator.
2010 – Alan and Malcolm form FiveF Agri LLP and the Alkasystems technology was transferred from Alan Sayle Associates to their newly formed company.
The company name was derived from the company slogan Farm Feeds and Forages For the Future.
Also during 2010 it became clear that the Alkasystems technology could be harnessed in a number of ways outside of the traditional uses on cereal based farm feeds. The first new application came, when after initial testing with Home n’ Dry® a new alkaline feed pellet named AlkabupHa® was designed to lift the acid load from mixed diets. Just like in the 1980’s founding principles, AlkabupHa allowed better feeding of animals that would normally be offered diets based on problematic acidic fermented forages and feeds.
2012 – It became increasingly clear that Alkagrain® could be both manufactured and marketed as a commercial feed, whilst also being used as an attractive alkalizing high starch feed ingredient for blended and pelleted manufactured feeds. Trading between farms and within the supply trade also became quite common within this period.
2013 – Malcolm Graham and Matthew Dugdale (Managing Director of Dugdale Nutrition and B. Dugdale & Son) began work to make the Alkasystems technology more easily applicable to large scale feed manufacturing. And so, they created the concept of Alkagrain150® a 5 times concentrated version of Alkagrain used on the farm.
This new concept could then be readily utilised as a feed ingredient for blends and pelleted manufactured feeds with two significant advantages – firstly it only requires the space and finance for 1/5th of the average inventory, and secondly the whole manufactured feed can be fully alkalized, not just the grain portion, therefore creating a more powerful feeding advantage. The first blends and pellets using this new technology were produced and sold in December 2013.
2014 – During 2014 it was agreed that B. Dugdale & Sons, who had always been the manufacturer of Home n’ Dry® and AlkabupHa® would acquire a third of FiveF Alka LLP which would become FiveF Alka Ltd. Matthew Dugdale would then join Alan Sayle and Malcolm Graham on the board of the new company helping to secure financial strength and succession through the next stage of development of the Alkasystems technology.
Throughout the early months of 2014 the Alkagrain150® technology was so widely promoted in the UK and Ireland that a network of manufacturing partners came on board to produce and market the alkalised cereal based feeds Alkablend® and Alkanut® in both coarse and pelleted form. From this point onwards, it could truly be said that there is now an Alkasystem solution for every ruminant farming scenario.
Approved distributors now sell Alkasystem products throughout the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Markets have also started to develop in Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Spain Germany and France
2016 – FiveF Alka Ltd. opened a new head office in Clitheroe, Lancashire in the heart of the UK.
Ongoing development work is being pursued using the Alkasystems technology to launch Alkapellets pH PLUS® for horses in a form that is permitted in EU feeding regulations, and allows the enhancement and improvement of fibrous feeds to increase their contribution to ruminant diets in a cost effective way.
The creation of alkaline feeds has allowed both improved animal performance and the increased use of both home grown cereals and forages in the diet. The benefits in counteracting diet acid loading are a common theme in feedback from regular users. There are now many ways of getting this “Alkasystem benefit” in animal diets.